Inflammation has been getting a lot of attention in healthcare recently, and for good reason. This is because low-grade, persistent, systemic inflammation at the cellular level has recently been understood to be the underlying common denominator between many chronic disease processes that are common in western civilization.
Low-grade, Cellular Inflammation
When patients hear us speak about inflammation, they generally imagine something akin to a swollen ankle after a sprain. That is a type of inflammation, but the inflammation we are speaking of here is low-grade, cellular inflammation. If a swollen ankle is a burning fire, low-grade, cellular inflammation is a pile of smoldering coals in your cells. It is this pile of smoldering coals that continuously irritates your cells, reduces their function, and, over time, produces chronic disease. If you can limit the amount of cellular inflammation that occurs in your body, you can better manage (and prevent) chronic disease, whether that be cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel disease, Crohn's disease, Alzheimer’s, etc.
What causes inflammation?
Our bodies have an inborn self-defense mechanism that is designed to protect us from the smoldering coals of low-grade, cellular inflammation. This mechanism is known as the Nrf2 pathway. Nrf2 is a special protein inside our cells that can be thought of as the master regulator of our inborn antioxidant system. When we experience stress, get infections, have poor gut health, have a diet high in carbohydrates or nutrient-poor food, or have a vitamin D deficiency, the Nrf2 proteins in our cells become inactive. This means that they do not activate potent antioxidant enzymes in our cells that are designed to reduce inflammation.
This explains why our society is experiencing so much chronic disease. We live in a stressful, hustle-and-bustle society that consumes a large amount of carbohydrates and nutrient-poor foods (which inevitably leads to poor gut health) that is also being exposed to various viruses and lacks the sun exposure necessary to produce adequate vitamin D. This scenario is a cesspool for inflammation.
How do we curb inflammation?
The bottom line up front is this: We need to activate the Nrf2 pathway in our cells. This is how we control low grade, cellular inflammation. This is accomplished by making good, healthy choices, day in and day out. What might some of those choices look like? They are going to come in two forms: Removing Nrf2 deactivators and adding in Nrf2 activators.
How to remove Nrf2 Deactivators
Remove inflammatory foods in your diet (fast food, margarine, fried foods, processed meats, etc.)
Reduce carbohydrates in your diet (white rice, white breads and pastas, white sugar, white potatoes, soda and other sugary beverages, sugary sauces, etc.)
Replace foods low in micronutrients (vitamin and minerals) for foods high in micronutrients
Reduce coffee consumption to 1 cup or less
How to add in Nrf2 Activators
Get consistent sun exposure (head, arms, and legs for 15-20 minutes)
Include foods high in phytochemicals into your diet (garlic, green tea, turmeric, rosemary, other herbs and spices, etc.)
Include foods high in zinc
Include more cruciferous vegetables (brussel sprouts, collard greens, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, arugula, etc.)
Supplement* the diet with anti-inflammatory, high-quality, whole-food supplements from Standard Process like Vitanox, HerbaVital, and/or Turmeric Forte. These supplements contain a high concentration of various plants and/or herbs that do an excellent job of activating the Nrf2 pathway in our cells.
For more information on how to reduce inflammation in your body and prevent/manage chronic disease, please contact the Ollis Chiropractic team at [email protected] or 502-412-8580.
*All supplements and herbs on the market are “not created equal”. The majority are of poor quality and not strong enough to properly address the therapeutic needs of the modern patient. We partner with only high quality whole-food supplement and herb providers. These supplements are only sold through health care providers and are available to you here at Ollis Chiropractic.